Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Tuesday said the House of Representatives will soon pass a third COVID-19 relief package to aid struggling Filipinos and revive the country’s pandemic-ravaged economy.
Velasco said the legislative chamber will hasten the plenary approval of the proposed Bayanihan 3 law once it resumes session on May 17.
“As soon as we get back on May 17, we will fast-track the approval of Bayanihan 3,” Velasco told a radio interview.
Velasco made the statement after three House committees approved during the break the substitute bill to several Bayanihan 3 measures, including House Bill 8628 or the proposed “Bayanihan to Arise As One Act” which he and Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo filed.
The substitute bill only needs the approval of the House Committee on Appropriations before it can be reported to the plenary for approval on second and third readings.
The proposed Bayanihan 3 includes two rounds of cash aid amounting to P1,000 per Filipino.
The cash aid, totaling P216 billion, would be given to all 108 million Filipinos regardless of social status.
“We must all give help in this pandemic,” Velasco said.
Quimbo, for her part, said the measure includes a P54.6 billion allocation for the pension and gratuity fund for retired military and uniformed personnel (MUP).
She said the Department of Budget and Management requested the inclusion of the amount.
Quimbo said the P54.6 billion to be allocated for retired MUP is “still considered” a COVID-19 response because soldiers as well as other uniformed personnel are considered frontliners in the battle against the pandemic.
“Our soldiers are also considered as frontliners. This is a good morale booster as the soldier will feel that he/she is being taken care of by the government,” she said.
Once approved, Quimbo said, the PGF will be released in three phases: P20 billion for Phase 1, P20 billion for Phase 2, and P14.6 billion for Phase 3.
Meanwhile, two party-list lawmakers representing seafarers on Tuesday batted for the inclusion of subsidized training for seafarers and overseas Filipino workers in the proposed Bayanihan 3 bill in recognition of their role in keeping the economy afloat during the pandemic.